Heading into the 2011 NBA Playoffs, Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers look ready to make yet another run at the championship.
And even though they haven't been the best team throughout the regular season, the Lakers have a number of things going for them which should help the team to achieve postseason success.
In short, the Los Angeles Lakers are widely considered to be a favorite to take home the NBA title because they are a team built for the playoffs, and here are the 10 reasons why.
Last season the Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA championship.
The year before, they did the same.
So with two consecutive titles, the Lakers certainly have more playoff experience than any team in the league.
And with that type of experience, it's evident that they clearly know how to get it done when it counts.
In order to experience playoff success, a team needs talent.
And with big-time players like Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Andrew Bynum and Ron Artest, the Los Angeles Lakers have no shortage of that.
Moreover, this collection of talented individuals have really begun to come together since the All-Star break, as illustrated by the Lakers going 15-1.
So given that they have a roster full of talented players performing at a high level as the playoffs approach, the Lakers certainly appear to be built for a deep postseason run.
In order to achieve success in the playoffs, a team must be able to defeat other good teams.
And the Los Angeles Lakers have done just that, accumulating a record of 23-12 against plus-.500 teams on the season.
Moreover, that mark is good for best in the Western Conference and second in the entire NBA—which demonstrates that the Lakers have out-played the majority of their potential playoff opponents.
And seeing as though they have established a solid track record of beating playoff-caliber teams, the Lakers are very much built for postseason success.
In the NBA Playoffs, the pace of play generally slows down, and therefore, the best teams are usually the most efficient.
That fact is very beneficial to the Los Angeles Lakers.
Thus far, the Lakers rank fourth in the NBA in offensive efficiency, scoring 108.7 points per 100 possessions.
But that's not all, as they also rank sixth overall in defensive efficiency by allowing only 101.5 points per 100 possessions.
And by out-scoring their opponents by an average of 7.2 points per 100 possessions, there is no doubt that the Lakers will be able to use their high level of efficiency to out-perform them in the postseason.
A lack of depth can be the nail in the coffin for a playoff team.
If a team doesn't have depth, they can be defeated by foul trouble, injuries or even just an off night by an important player.
However, when a team has does indeed have a deep roster, these are all of little concern.
Well, the Los Angeles Lakers have a deep roster.
With Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown, Matt Barnes and Steve Blake all coming off the bench, the reserve unit has the skills and firepower to replace just about anyone from the starting lineup should they run into trouble on the court or just simply need a rest.
Therefore, with the ability to go nine-deep without missing a beat, the Lakers' depth should allow the team to make yet another run at an NBA championship.
As the old saying goes, defense wins championships.
And the Los Angeles Lakers have no shortage of defense on their team.
With former Defensive Player of the Year Ron Artest and eight-time All-Defensive First Teamer Kobe Bryant, the Lakers can lock down any opposing wing.
And that's not to mention that they have defensive stalwart Matt Barnes backing the two up.
And inside, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combine for nearly four blocks per game, and along with Lamar Odom, grab about 28 rebounds per game.
So when all of that is combined with their sixth-ranked defensive efficiency, the Lakers should be able to ride their defensive prowess on a deep playoff run.
A team's size is something that can always give them a sure-fire advantage over their opponents.
And with Andrew Bynum (7'0", 285 pounds), Pau Gasol (7'0", 250 pounds) and Lamar Odom (6'10", 230 pounds) lining up inside, the Los Angeles Lakers sport a frontcourt that few can top.
Therefore, the trio can easily combine to defend and out-rebound opposing big men, while using their combination of size and skill to turn in solid offensive performances.
And because of this overwhelming frontcourt, the Lakers can expect to make short work of their undersized postseason opponents.
In what is likely to be his final season as an NBA head coach, Phil Jackson has put together the most accomplished coaching career of all time.
He has won a record total of 11 NBA championships and 14 conference championships, which are two and four more respectively than Red Auerbach, who is second place all time in both categories.
But it doesn't stop there, as Jackson has also accumulated the fifth-most career wins, all while maintaining the best winning percentage of a coach with more than one season under his belt.
And if that weren't enough, his all-time best postseason win total and winning percentage both dwarf the next best coach.
Therefore, with the most proven leader of all time steering the ship, the Los Angeles Lakers should be ready for another title run in 2011.
In Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers have one of the NBA's all-time greats.
And now in his 15th season, he is posting per-game averages of 25.2 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 1.4 threes and 1.2 steals, and showing no real sign of slowing down.
Moreover, Bryant has been one of the league's best performers when it counts, as illustrated by his league-leading scoring rate during the final minutes of close games.
And when that is combined with his five career NBA titles, then there is no doubt that Kobe is at his best in the clutch.
So as his Lakers enter the postseason, Bryant should be able to step up and lead his team on another run at the NBA championship.
If the Los Angeles Lakers aren't built for the NBA Playoffs, then who are?
The Western Conference-leading San Antonio Spurs have lost four straight games, and their star trio of Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have all missed time due to recent injuries.
The Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls, although performing at a high level, are relatively unproven in the postseason.
The Boston Celtics were soundly defeated by the Lakers last season, and the Lakers are somewhat improved this year.
The Dallas Mavericks have never experienced significant levels of success in the playoffs, and moreover, after losing five of their last 12, they are no longer playing as well as they were earlier this season.
The Miami Heat have experienced well-documented struggles against the league's best teams.
And the list could go on and on.
So basically, after evaluating all of their strengths and the weaknesses of their potential opponents, it seems like the Los Angeles Lakers are the team which is best-built for success in the 2011 NBA Playoffs.